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Escaping the Fire
I’m Kati and I have a LONG story, but I will try to shorten it as best as I can. About 10 years ago my husband and I started attending church when we were stationed in WA state. Shortly after we got orders to San Diego, CA. Through a VBS program we started attending a local AG church. It was here where we were first exposed to Bethel Redding and the teachings of Bill Johnson. Our oldest daughter was 12 years old at the time and went with the youth group to a Jesus Culture conference in Redding. The church had MANY guest speakers and even established their own school of supernatural ministry. One guest in particular named Rob Deluca really sticks out to me because my husband pointed out that he almost NEVER quoted scripture….all he spoke of was his prophetic dreams and visions, and of course THE FIRE.
When we were able to get into military housing we started attending another AG church that was closer to us. Looking back on the surface they seemed to fall into the “emergent” category, but many of the same types of teaching were at the core. They would host special Holy Spirit seminars for people to seek the second baptism, etc. In addition there were a few small groups where the main focus was learning to tune to just the right frequency to hear from God.
From San Diego we went to Virginia. In the beginning we chose to attend the mega Baptist church that everyone recommended. Definitely a little on the emergent side now that I look back, but the teaching was solid and sound. Of course after experiencing all that I had before I thought something was wrong because to my polluted mind it appeared as if the Holy Spirit wasn’t moving. From there we left to attend a Church of God. The people at this church became like our family, but definitely a little suspect now that I look back. Lots of emotional music sang from the Brownsville Revival, some twisting of scripture and prayer meetings where the “gifts” would be used, etc. I decided to do a Daniel Fast one January and basically focused ALL of my attention when my kids were in school on “hearing” from God. I would watch nothing except for Sid Roth and then would look up information about his guests and then start to follow their teachings. I created playlists on my Spotify account with musical guests that he had on his show and would listen exclusively to that music as well.
We moved back to WA state last summer and made it a priority to find a church where they “operated in the gifts”. We started attending a small church because our daughter who by this time was 18 really connected with some of the youth. It was here that we were given a copy of The Holy Ghost movie. I had seen Father of Lights before but was especially intrigued by this movie. Even more so when I heard a testimony of a lady speaking of the weekly trips that she and another church member would make to a local nursing home to basically practice many of the same types of practices that Todd White demonstrates in the film. I was thinking that all of this was SO wonderful and I couldn’t wait to sign up and volunteer also. Thankfully it never worked out!
In January I did another Daniel Fast and saw on FB that a House of Prayer group similar to IHOP was forming locally. I was SO excited and committed to attend the launch which spanned over three days. The guest speakers were the ones who formed the Salem House of Prayer in Oregon and there was also a man affiliated with Latter Glory in Moses Lake. They made a big show of having each one of us come up front to receive a special “anointing” where they would lay hands on us and loudly pray and prophesy over us.
It was here that I met a lady who invited me to attend a special women’s gathering that was in a secluded Christian retreat center deep in the Olympic Forrest. I told my best friend about it and she agreed to fly out to attend with me. There was a woman leading who I’m sure now that they believe has “apostolic” authority. We all ate dinner together and then gathered together in a dark room with emotional workshop music being played before the leader started praying and prophesying over each woman in the room. There was lots of falling down, crying, laughing, flagging, and shofar blowing. The next day was the same only with an emphasis on the praying for our country. The leader had us stand all together holding the American flag signing, shouting, and shaking it declaring and decreeing all sorts of things. On the last day that we were there we were gathered together once more to say a quick prayer that turned into three hours of more pandemonium, of course I didn’t think this at the time! Many of these ladies I have learned take trips to remote areas in our state to blow shofars in order to cast out territorial demons. They clearly subscribe to Dominion Theology.
I started watching the FALSE Fire and Glory Outpouring that is currently happening in San Diego and watched a pastor get prayed over who is a leader at the Seattle Revival Center…..so then I felt God was telling me to go there. I loaded my daughter up in the car and booked a hotel so that I didn’t have to drive home. Crazy, emotional music with eerie shouts and laughter followed by Charlie Shamp bringing everyone up to the front to pray and prophesy. There was one point where he told us that God was giving out gold teeth and asked us all to take out our cell phones and check 7 mouths. There was one lady who supposedly got a gold tooth. She was ushered to the front and fawned over, but I remember thinking that is seemed funny that she just casually sat back down in her seat to check Facebook. Wouldn’t you have been on your face if that was the case? Those were the questions that started to rattle around in my head….but nevertheless, I believed that I was more “anointed” because I had been in the “glory.” Joshua Mill’s grandmother was also there that night and they did a reverse fire tunnel which allowed her to lay hands on everyone. I felt a magnetic force when she came by me and laid hands on me and fell down and was unable to move. The same thing happened to my daughter who then thought it was funny to start following her around in hopes of getting “touched” again.
My husband had to work in San Diego so we traveled together with him and were excited to go to the Fire and Glory Outpouring and experience the source of this “#westcoastrumble”. MORE of the same craziness that when I look back was simply demonic. One night while attending I had a headache and pulled out a roller with some essential oil to roll on my head. Within a minute the speaker, who was Miranda Nelson stopped and asked us if we smelled that “heavenly fragrance.” The whole crowd of course then got whipped up into a frenzy. My daughter wanted to raise her hand and say something, but I smacked her in the leg to get her to stop. I look back and know that between that and the lady with the gold tooth, God was trying to give me some clues, but I wasn’t ready to listen.
After returning home, I wasn’t able to attend church one Sunday and our daughter came home three hours past when she was supposed to arrive with mascara running down her face from her tears. She was telling me how “wonderful” church was because there was preaching all about stepping into the river…and of course, they did an alter call and craziness broke out. There was one lady close to my mom’s age who would always laugh hysterically. One day during church she simply placed her hand on my daughter’s leg causing my daughter to loose complete control of herself laughing in a way we had never heard before. It was then that she began to fail her college classes and and backslid majorly.
I used to sit for hours in my room practicing “automatic writing” and would beat myself up if I didn’t receive a “word” from the Lord. All the time I realize now that he was saying, “READ YOUR BIBLE.” I started praying that God would show me if I was on the wrong path. To expose anything that was not of him….and one night while watching the Jeff Jansen ranting and raving in a lifestream broadcast of the Fire and Glory Outpouring, I started to see things differently. I actually found myself wondering if these people were on drugs! I went to bed and woke up the next morning ashamed of myself for being a “doubting Thomas” but the same thing happened again, and again. I started digging and researching and my eyes began to open wide as the truth became revealed to me. I think I now am up to 356 videos saved to a playlist on my youtube account and have grown a desire to understand scripture in it’s proper context.
Our daughter is doing much better and recently moved out. We are really struggling to find a solid church home here. I was helping recently with a VBS at a local church and sat down with one of their pastors. He asked me what I was looking for in a church and I told him that God has really been doing a work in me and that I have grown to really love expository preaching of the word, how I am no longer interested in what people “think” it means or seeking out allegorical meanings. I told him at this time my husband and I desire line by line, verse by verse teaching. This pastor then reached over, grabbed his bible and flopped it around told me, “If THIS is all you have, then you only have the tip of the iceberg. THIS is ONLY what is written down.” How scary is that? God loved us enough to give us an objective source and it’s our responsibility to be good Bereans and check EVERYTHING out for ourselves. I believe that people, although desperate for the Lord, have become lazy and as a result fall victim to these heretical teachings.
I know that I could have added much more to this and given many more details. Maybe someday I will! Even just sitting here and writing this all out is very helpful to me. The people caught up in the movement are delusional, and I was right there among them. What this has taught me is that God IS a good father and shepherd and he WILL come after and rescue his sheep that have strayed from the path of righteousness….but we have to allow him to by turning from these wicked ways and turning back to the truth that is found in his written word. I’m not sure why God allowed me to experience the things that I did, but I know that what the enemy intended to harm me has certainly been turned around for good! My heart grieves for not only those who are lost, but those who attend church week after week and sit under these false teachings. I question whether many of them have even heard the true gospel or whether many of them are even saved. I’ve been praying about what I am supposed to do with all of this, but I am trusting God in the process. Thank you for reading, and God bless!!!
Thanks to Kati for permission to share her story. It also can be found on another great blog that I recommend.
The Theological Errors of Bethel Church and Jesus Culture
By Tony Wood
I am approached often regarding the ministry of Bethel Church in Redding, California (and subsequently, music that outflows through their musicians “Jesus Culture”). For weeks, I’ve prayed about how best to respond, not desiring to present a statement out of context, gossip, assault the true body of Christ, nor give any further attention to a ministry that is frighteningly far from biblical truth. An opportunity presented itself recently when a friend provided me with a Bethel website post “God, Bad, & the Ugly” from Kris Vallotton who is considered, along with Bill Johnson, the chief leader/prophet for the church. Thus, instead of providing thoughts out of context, I will simply provide biblical response to his publicly made statements regarding Bethel’s ministry philosophy.
After reading over his comments, I do not laugh nor mock, but shed tears. It appears that Bethel desperately desires to “mainstream” their church but cannot synthesize Scripture with their ministry. Their words display a desire to be spiritual but it is quite apparent they have no systematic interpretation process for the Scriptures they attempt to use. Thus, not only are the positions false, they are theologically immature. This is sad for the leaders and their families, but much more so, for those that follow such behavior blindly. We cannot call what these men say or do “church”. In it’s best form, it may be considered immature confusion, a youth ministry gone mad. In it’s worse form, it is demonic. And, I pray God enlighten them to truth and call them to repentance. I also recommend that people avoid the church and any platform of media, music or otherwise, that comes from it’s dark center.
Mr Vallotton’s reflections will be found in bold. I’ve noted vital biblical references in blue, and my brief thoughts following. For sake of time, I’ve only highlighted the most evident errors while leaving dozens on the sideline.
“…a small, yet influential coalition of people has shared negative reports about us. These reports often include words such as “controversial,” “unbalanced,” or even the word “cult” to describe us. To be frank, I can understand why certain religious leaders or unbelievers might view us through these perspectives. We certainly have made our share of mistakes, both as a leadership team and those who follow us. And we have such a high value for freedom and risk that it has created a kind-of research and development culture where people are encouraged to take risks. I think this stems from the fact that we view ourselves much more as pioneers than settlers. Therefore, we celebrate creativity, revelation, invention and innovation above comfort, safety and security.” – Vallotton
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How God Rescued Me From Bill Johnson’s Cult
by Shofar B. From ClosingStages.net
Last year around Christmas time, I was part of a prayer group where I live. It was a small group that met 1-2 times a week. All of us were DESPERATELY seeking God. It was a good fellowship. One evening after the session ended, I was tinkering around on the drums when one of the brothers, Dan came up to me with a look of soft urgency in his eyes.
Seeming not to notice that I was in deep focus trying to perfect a drum rudiment, he proceeded to interrupt me with a question…in a notch above whispering my name he asked me, ”have you ever heard of Bill Johnson??” Still working out drum patterns and attempting to simultaneously reply, I answered…”I ‘ve heard the name before. I know he’s in California but I don’t know much about him.”
At this response, I saw Dan’s face light up as if he had just received a shot of adrenaline. I knew he was ready to share, so sensing this, my drumming gradually teetered off into a complete silence. It was then that Dan began to advise and enlighten me about Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church in Redding Ca. Also he gave me the scoop about the churches School of Supernatural Ministry. [Side note: I hate typing for long periods of time so this is going to be a truncated account and I’ll add more details over time.] Okay, so Dan who has no binding ties to Bethel, suddenly sounded like one of their top recruiters/ pitchmen.
He began to tell me about how the presence of God permeated and saturated the campus at Bethel. He RAVED about the school. He RAVED about the music in the worship services. He RAVED about the teachings of Bill Johnson and Kris Vallatton. He raved about everything from the prayer tower to the coffee shop. After about an hour and a half of what could’ve EASILY qualified to have been a top notch infomercial, Dan made me an offer that two weeks later I found out…”I couldn’t refuse.” Dan told me that he was so confident that my walk with Christ would intensify by leaps and bounds by going to Bethel, that if I agreed to go, NOT ONLY would he pay my transportation there…he would also PAY THE $9000.00 Tuition required to attend the School of Supernatural Ministry.
At the time it really sounded cool, but I was comfy here at home and saw no need to make any rash moves. However, later, some things were being shaken up at home and I began to lose peace. I remembered Dan telling me of the intense peace that was present aroung the Bethel atmosphere. Being that he contacted frequently to pitch me on Bethel after that prayer meeting night, it was during one of the times we made contact…I succumbed. I said okay Dan…I’ll go check it out. The next day we were at the Greyhound station. However, I got cold feet and asked for more time to think about it. After all this was new territory for me, new town, nowhere to live, new people was no big deal…I’m as gregarious as they come. I LOVE PEOPLE!!! Anyway, after thinking about it, I took the dive. The next day I was off to Redding. Set up with a nice motel, I found my way to Bethel the next day, and this would be the beginning of the road to my NIGHTMARE. Please note though, it didn’t start out that way.
When I attended Bethel for the first time it was LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT!! And that ”love” would continue for the next two months. I immediately called Dan to tell him how right he was about everything. I even went on to tell him that he UNDERSTATED his description. I SWORE that I had died and gone to heaven. People seemed to really love Jesus. The view from the top of the mountain was ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING!!! There was something going on ALL OF THE TIME…LITERALLY 24/7. Being one that’s GREEDY FOR GOD, it was the perfect milieu for me and my insatiable appetite for HIM. There were ubiquitous house groups within the community and I loved attending them. It reminded me of the New Testament church in Acts.
I went to EVERY possible function that I could, and there were ”ZILLIONS”. During a house meeting I was offered a place to stay…for FREE. And that was just in the nick of time as I began running out of money. A few days later, I began living with students from Bethel’s school. Still floating on a cloud, I just seemed to see God’s hand moving at every turn I made. Even from my first visit, I would get myriad ”words of knowledge” spoken to me by many people EVERYDAY. I still have them written down. I think maybe ONE came true, but I know NOW that it was just a lucky guess..the rest em’?? UN-lucky guesses…lol.
So to make a long story short , I absorbed every thing Bethel offered I dove in seven days a week. I had my first ”fire tunnel” experience at a house…my first impression…OVERRATED!! While everyone else that went through it laughed and convulsed hysterically, I was unaffected EVEN in spite of the countless attempts of others to ”IMPART” (one of their buzz words) into me what they were feeling.
Also, I found it strange that I couldn’t even communicate with people even about simples matters like the weather or a basketball game without them jerking, shaking or convulsing…these convulsions were so profuse within the cult that for me it QUICKLY became overkill.
Another idiosyncrasy was the constant belting out of the phrase…”’WHOA” OR ”WOE” This is heard constantly. Still seeing through rose colored glasses though, I overlooked the weird behavior and justified it by concluding that ”God loves it when his kids are having fun with Him” Gradually though, I started deducing that this wasn’t mere fun…it was borderline mockery, the shaking, the jerking, the laughing, the cackling, the convulsing….it just went on TOOOO MUCH!!! If it were done in moderation, it may have gone undetected by me, but this was INSANE!!!
Later, I started noticing a LOT of name dropping from the pulpit (mostly from Bill Johnson) of false prophets and wolves like Bob Jones, Patricia King, Todd Bentley, Heidi Baker, and a plethora of others… This was constant, and when these names were mentioned, cheers went up with the fervor and magnitude of a Super Bowl touchdown reaction. During my entire time there, I NEVER ONCE heard Jesus get even a fraction of that type of praise,worship, or delightful frenzy. I might add that NEVER ONCE did I hear salvation, repentance, holiness, righteousness, judgment, or wrath preached, neither from the pulpit nor when I’d travel the streets with them. The whole business plan (because it’s NOT a ministry) is to focus on LYING signs and wonders….impotent magic tricks. I’ve always wondered why Bill would rave about all of these so-called and UNDOCUMENTED ”miracles” happening through Bethel around the world, YET, when it comes to home, we never get to see any of em’ manifested. For instance, Bill and his wife both wear prescription glasses…where’s the healing?? Bill had a hernia surgically removed…WHAT??? No miracle?? Bill’s son Eric is deaf and has a speech impediment…C’mon Bill…that’s your son..HEAL HIM!!!…Bill and his wife have gray hair (a sign of zinc deficiency)…but no ”supernatural” intervention has taken place, yet all of this GREAT stuff is happening EVERYWHERE ELSE EXCEPT HOME ON BETHEL’S TURF!!! Gimme a break!!!.
The real thing that got me though was the death of little J.C. the infant of two dear Korean friends of mine. He died from cancer at two years old. Prayers went out for him every second of the day. People jerked, shook, laughed, convulsed, spoke in (FAKE/DEMONIC) tongues over him…the works…and when he died, we were left with feeble excuses like ”God needed him more” kind of CRAP!!! Around this time
I had already stopped going to the church. When I first got there, for the first two months, because God gifted me with charisma, celebrity looks (and I don’t say that arrogantly) and the ability to draw people, I instantly became EXTREMLEY popular. By the time I left Redding, I was considered a pariah in some circles and cliques within. Even though I lived with Bethel students, I began to expose Bethel, Bill Johnson, Kris Vallaton, Danny Silk, and ALL of the celebrity WOLVES in their within their evil and deceptive cabal. People that used to ”love” me (so they said), snubbed me on the streets. They unfriended me on facebook. They’d give me looks of sheer disdain whenever we’d cross paths…we’re talkin’ some of the same people that I’ve prayed with, broke bread with, and had gotten venerably intimate with. When I stopped going to the church and began staying home and listening to REAL MINISTERS OF GOD like Michael Boldea and Mike Hoggard, Paul Washer and David Eells, I got flack from my roommates saying that those guy were mad and didn’t know God.They asked me not to play their sermons But I’d ignore their comments and continued to feed on what was REAL GOSPEL. I would often challenge my roomies and other Bethel ”robots” on Bill and Kris’ theology and their twisted new age ”sermons” WITH SCRIPTURE and it ceased to surprise me anymore that they’d rebuttle my challenges with quotes from one of Bill or Kris’ books. IMAGINE THAT!!! They ALWAYS tried to refute GOD’S WORD with quotes from books written by their false teachers. Can you say MIND CONTROL???
So after 2 months, I stopped going. I continued to live with the students because it was a ”phat crib” OR, a nice house for those who are linguistically challenged in ”SLANG”…LOL I was paying rent by this time in a new home and different students. The landlord approached me one day while shooting ball in the yard and told me that if I didn’t start attending Bethel and doing what they call ”SOZO” classes (which is simply /new age mysticism/chanting/ contemplative prayer or ”soaking” kinda stuff) that I would have to find somewhere else to live. It was my 4th month in Redding and that was my ”Q” to leave. My wife was on the phone when this happened. I had my bluetooth in my ear and the landlord wasn’t aware that I was on a phone call at the time. My wife COULD NOT BELIEVE HER EARS!!! We both knew it was time to ”GIT OUTTA DARE”.
I became good friends with Mike Hoggard while going through that trying period, and he REALLY helped sustain me in prayer and encouraging words. I initially was going to relocate to where he is and get some discipleship and restoration. But God led me home. Let me give you one more story here before I close. There was a class held every Sunday called ”Fire Starters” birthed out of the Toronto Blessing movement. This class was supposed to ..get this…”TEACH” PEOPLE HOW TO PROPHESY…LOL!!! Yes…I laughed too!! So anyway, every class people were randomly called to the front of the room, they were lined up, and asked to pick someone in the room and give them a word of knowledge…BUT THERE WERE RULES…WHAT EVER YOU SAID HAD TO BE SWEET, KIND, AND MAKE THE PERSON ”FEEL” GOOD…Those are the rules verbatim!!!
After weeks of seeing this nonsense and people stating the obvious and touting it as hearing from God, out of frustration, one Saturday night, I decided to MAKE UP, FABRICATE a ”word of knowledge” just in case I would be picked out to prophesy in tomorrow’s class. And whaddaya know…I get picked. When my turn came, I shared my FABRICATED ”word’. It was this, ”there’s someone here who’s been strategizing suicide, and the devil is tormenting you. If you’ll raise your hand, we can pray for you and you can be released.” Much to my surprise, a hand went up…WOW….I’m like okay God, you used my prank to REALLY get someone’s attention. ”Praise You”.
But I was about to get an even BIGGER surprise, because, I immediately thought the room would shut down and people would bombard this poor girl who planned to take her life, so they could pray and labor over her soul, but NO!!! That’s NOT what happened. Instead, I got reprimanded by Kevin Dedmond, one of the ”leaders” (you can see his crap on you tube w/Sid Roth),and I was told that I’m to only say things that make people feel good. And they resumed right back into letting people perform their exercises of divination, cause that’s what it REALLY is.
More upsetting is that when class dismissed, out of a room of about 150ppl, I only saw 2 people (excluding myself), a couple go minister to that girl…everyone else??? Well, they were too anxious to go through the FRUITLESS ”fire tunnel” so that they could appease their flesh…and so they did…THEY LAUGHED, THEY JERKED, THEY SHOOK, THEY CONVULSED, THEY WRITHED IN THE FLOOR, and to this very day…they call it GOD.
When they finally DO meet God they’ll not be laughing anymore!!! I’d like to thank Pat Rogers from ”ANGRY SHEEP” for encouraging me to share this with you all. Believe me, there’s soooooooooo much more to share and I’ll add on as things come to mind. You have to realize that I only hunt and peck 20 wpm, so typing , for now anyway, isn’t my forte. Getting ready to take classes though. Please forgive any type-o’s. Love You All in the Lord and I pray that in some way you were blessed, edified, or educated through this writing. God Bless You, Shofar
Posting this article is the result of alarm from watching Jesus Culture videos from Bill Johnson’s Redding Bethel Church.
The teens exhibited the kyiras that develop from oppression and spoke of listening to Todd Bentley….
I like what David Cloud has said about the attitude of youth today…”Traditional Christianity is described as too focused on being right, too much into Bible studies and apologetics materials. Instead, the young evangelicals are lusting after ‘a renewed encounter with a God’ that goes beyond doctrinal definitions. This, of course, is a perfect definition of mysticism. It refers to experiencing God beyond the boundaries of Scripture. ”
By Bob DeWaay
[Note: The February episode of Echo Zoe Radio, featuring guest Bob DeWaay, was based on this article.]
Bill Johnson of Redding, California has become a popular teacher in one of the latest iterations of the Signs and Wonders movement. His book, When Heaven Invades Earth, reveals his underlying theology.
Johnson believes that there will be a great end-time revival that will be initiated by an “Elijah generation” (a concept from the heretical Latter Rain movement) that shall transcend all other generations of Christians in regard to their ability to do great works of power. Johnson claims the following about himself and associates: “We will carry the Elijah anointing in preparing for the return of the Lord in the same way that John the Baptist carried the Elijah anointing and prepared the people for the coming of the Lord” (Johnson: 184).
Supposedly these elitists will set off a great revival of signs and wonders greater than those of Jesus. This miracle explosion, they expect, will cause a great revival before the return of Christ. Johnson states, “I live for the revival that is unfolding and believe it will surpass all previous moves combined, bringing more than one billion souls into the Kingdom” (Johnson: 23).
The basic premise is that God always wants to do abundant and remarkable miracles but is kept from doing so by the fear and unbelief of the church. God awaits the arrival of specially anointed and enlightened Christians who will make it possible for Him to bring at long last an invasion of heaven to earth before the return of Christ. That is the point of Johnson’s title. His subtitle is A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. Accordingly, with the right information, zeal, desire, piety, faith and anointing, any Christian can “make the supernatural natural” (Johnson: 133).
In this article I will show from Johnson’s book that he has departed from orthodox Christian teaching in many serious ways. He teaches the heretical kenosis doctrine about Christ. He denies the Reformation principle of sola scriptura. He embraces pietism, elitism, subjectivism, fideism, dominion theology, and many other errors. I will claim that his supposed end-time revival is actually end-time apostasy.
How to Introduce Heresy
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